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Czech Chamber Music Society • Quatuor pour la fin du Temps


Elite chamber musicians will present a programme of interesting, seldom-heard works. The highlight will certainly be Messiaen’s extraordinarily challenging Quartet for the End of Time. This concert is presented in cooperation with the festival Bohuslav Martinů Days.

Subscription series II | Duration of the programme 1 hour 25 minutes | Czech Chamber Music Society

Programme

Gustav Mahler
Piano Quartet in A minor (6')

Bohuslav Martinů
String Sextet for two violins, two violas, and two cellos, H 224 (23')

— Intermission —

Olivier Messiaen
Quatuor pour la fin du Temps for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano (37')

Performers

Martin Kasík piano
Irvin Venyš clarinet
Milan Al-Ashhab violin
Roman Patočka violin
Jiří Pinkas viola
Karel Untermüller viola
Petr Nouzovský cello
Mikael Ericsson cello

Photo illustrating the event Czech Chamber Music Society • Quatuor pour la fin du Temps

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall

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Price from 100 to 350 CZK Tickets and contact information

Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic

Tel.: +420 227 059 227
E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

Customer service is available on weekdays from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.

 

The concert is being held with the financial support of the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation.

 

Performers

Martin Kasík  piano

Martin Kasík is widely acclaimed for his inventive, poetic approach to performing, through which he captures the mood of the moment. He studied at the Janáček Conservatoire in Ostrava under M. Tugendliebová, the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under I. Klánský and participated in masterclasses under L. Berman, G. Ohlsson, and P. Badura-Skoda.

His path to stages around the world (Carnegie Hall, Wiener Musikverein,Gewandhaus Leipzig, Suntory Hall Tokyo etc.) was opened by victory at the 1998 Prague Spring Competition and at the 1999 Young Concert Artists Competition in New York. Since then, he has been collaborating with the most important ensembles including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, or Czech Philharmonic. His recordings on the Supraphon and Arco Diva labels have won top honours in the journals Gramophone, Repertoire, and Harmonie.

He also teaches at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and at the Prague Conservatoire, and he is the artistic director of the Chopin Festival in Mariánské Lázně.

Irvin Venyš  clarinet

Irvin Venyš is one of the most progressive performers on the Czech music scene. Above all, thanks to his broad range of repertoire spanning from classical music to folk music, jazz, and even challenging works of the 20th and 21st centuries, he has become a sought-after soloist and chamber music player. He collaborates with many contemporary composers, and he actively takes part in giving premieres and other performances of music by Czech and foreign composers. He makes recordings regularly for Czech Radio, Czech Television, ORF, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, and the labels Naxos, Arco Diva, and Supraphon. He released his latest CD titled Komp(l)ot with the Epoque Quartet on his own new label Irvin Classics.

He teaches clarinet at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and he is the director of the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation.

He is a cofounder and organiser of the culture education project Prague Clarinet Days and of the Concert against Totalitarianism, which commemorates the protests of 17 November 1989 and the repression of artists by totalitarian regimes.

Milan Al-Ashhab  violin

Milan Al-Ashhab, winner of the prestigious International violin competition Fritz Kreisler in Vienna, New York Concert Artists and Associates Worldwide Debut Audition (2018) and laureate of the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow (2019), graduated from the Teplice Conservatory (Květoslava Hasilová) and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Ivan Štraus). Since 2019 he has been studying at Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna under the leadership of Peter Schuhmayer, deepening his knowledge at several masterclasses (Pinchas Zukerman, Gábor Takács-Nagy or Hagai Shaham).

He has collaborated with several Czech and foreign orchestras (ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, Czech Philharmonic, Moscow Symphonic Orchestra, Hofer Symphoniker, Lʼarmonia terrena etc.) and regularly performs with Czech pianist and composer Adam Skoumal (Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall, Merkin Hall New York, Vienna Musikverein, Prague Spring, Mendelssohn festival in Switzerland). 

Milan Al-Ashhab plays a precious Italian instrument by Nicola Amati (Cremona, 1662), kindly lent by Swiss organisation Maggini-Stiftung.

Roman Patočka   violin

After completing his studies at Prague Conservatory with Dagmar Zárubová and Academy of Performing Arts under Ivan Štraus, Patočka continued his studies in Utrecht (Keiko Wataya), Lübeck (Shmuel Ashkenasi) and Berlin (Stefan Picard). He is a laureate of the Prague Spring Competition, Václav Huml Competition in Zagreb, Max Rostal Competition in Berlin or Leopold Mozart Competition in Augsburg.

As a soloist, Roman Patočka has collaborated with orchestras in the Czech Republic and beyond (Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Hamburger Symphoniker, La Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra, Czech Philharmonic); as a chamber musician, he has performed with some of todayʼs most important Czech musicians—including Radek Baborák, Martin Kasík, and Igor Ardašev—as well as internationally recognized musicians such as Daishin Kashimoto or Jennifer Frautschi. Patočka is a member of both the celebrated Talich Quartet and the Eben Trio.

Roman Patočka’s recordings have appeared on Czech Radio, BBC Radio 3 or ORF. Most recently, he recorded a CD of violin concertos by František Benda with the Prague Chamber Orchestra.

Jiří Pinkas  viola

Jiří Pinkas studied the violin and viola at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. During his studies, he became a laureate of the Conservatory competition in Ostrava (1999) and participated in numerous international interpretation master classes. As a soloist he has performed with the Czech Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Pardubice, Pilsen Philharmonic, Carlsbad Symphony Orchestra etc.

In 2001, he became the violist of the Bennewitz Quartet which counts among the best chamber ensembles on the international music scene. The quartet won the 1st prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Osaka, Japan (2005) and the 1st prize at the String Quartet Competition Premio Paolo Borciani in Italy (2008). The Bennewitz Quartet is regularly invited to the prestigious world stages (Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Londonʼs Wigmore Hall, Rockefeller Center, New York, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Herkulessaal in Munich, Auditorio Nacional Madrid and others).

Karel Untermüller  viola

Karel Untermüller studied at the Prague Conservatoire in the studio of Jaroslav Ruis and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under Lubomír Malý and has taken part in masterclasses led by Norbert Brainin, Sigmund Nissel, and Thomas Kakuska. He is a member of the Suk Chamber Orchestra (principal viola) and of the Herold String Quartet. Over its 20 years of existence, the quartet has performed in many European countries (appearing at London’s Wigmore Hall, Frankfurt’s Sendesaal, L’Auditori in Barcelona and elsewhere), in Japan, Australia, and on the Hawaiian Islands. They have made several CDs and have appeared in concert with such artists as Josef Suk, Michal Kaňka, and Ludmila Peterková. The Herold String Quartet has won the Czech Chamber Music Society Award.

As a soloist, Karel Untermüller has played with many Czech orchestras, including appearances with the violinist Josef Suk. With him and other outstanding instrumentalists (Jiří Bárta, Pavel Šporcl, Jan Simon et al), he has recorded three albums of chamber music by Antonín Dvořák and Josef Suk, and he has given many concerts including appearances at the Prague Spring Festival. In 2018 he appeared as a soloist with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra at Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall, at Vienna’s Musikverein, and at the Konzerthall in Klagenfurt. He teaches at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

Petr Nouzovský  cello

One of Europe’s finest cellists, Petr Nouzovský has performed at the most prestigious venues, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Max-Littmann-Saal in Bad Kissingen, Rachmaninov Hall in Moscow and Herkulessaal in Munich. He has been praised for his superlative performance technique combined with original tectonics.

He has worked with leading international orchestras and has regularly appeared at renowned festivals (Prague Spring, Janáček International Music Festival, Dvořák Prague, etc.). In the current season, he is scheduled to make his first tour of South Korea, as well as to visit Japan and China.

Petr Nouzovský studied at the Prague Conservatory, the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden and the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid. He has also attended masterclasses led by Mstislav Rostropovich, Boris Pergamenschikov and Lynn Harrell. He plays a Georg Rauer 1921 cello.

Mikael Ericsson  cello

Born in Arvika, Sweden, into a family of musicians, he began playing cello with Hans Erik Deckert before continuing his education at the Royal Danish Conservatory in Copenhagen. He also attended master classes with Guy Fallot and the “cello legend” Gregor Piatigorsky. A meeting with the Czech violinist and teacher Josef Vlach brought him to Prague for further studies. In 1978 Mikael Ericsson made it to the finals of the famous Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (the first Swede ever to do so); in 1980 he won the Prague Spring international competition as well as the prize for best interpretation of a contemporary Czech composition.

As a soloist Mikael Ericsson has performed with orchestras in Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Spain; he toured with the Stockholm Radio Orchestra and the Czech Chamber Orchestra.

Ericsson proved himself a musical treasure seeker with his discovery and first recording of the cello concertos of Josef Rejcha and Carl Stamitz (the prize of the Czech Music Fund). Mikael Ericsson is also passionately interested in arrangements for string ensembles and polished solo cadenzas for cello concertos.

Compositions

Gustav Mahler
Piano Quartet in A minor

Piano Quartet in A minor is a youthful work. Mahler began working on it at the end of his first year at the Vienna Conservatory. He was 15 or 16 years of age and it was his first and last surviving piece of chamber music which was non-vocal (from the early stage of his career we know only of songs with piano accompaniment). As a student, he received two prizes for piano quintets, but there is no trace of them. The Piano Quartet was first performed in July 1876 at one of the conservatory’s concerts with Mahler himself playing the piano part. This was followed by a private performance at the home of Dr. Theodor Billroth, a renowned physician and friend of Johannes Brahms, and in September 1876 the piece was presented in the composer’s home town of Jihlava (Iglau). However, it is not clear whether this was a complete work or just a fragment which has survived to the present day and is often referred to as the Quartet Movement in A minor. The manuscript was rediscovered in the 1960s by Mahler’s widow Alma Mahler, and the piece was given a revived premiere by Peter Serkin and the Galimir Quartet in New York. The single-movement work is an interesting testament to the earliest music by Mahler, who later became a great master. The features that characterize Mahler’s last mature period are already present in this youthful opus: the tendency to passionate expression and strong contrasts and the way of enhancing them; the final morendo is already a typical Mahler.

Bohuslav Martinů
String Sextet for two violins, two violas and two cellos, H 224

Bohuslav Martinů was attracted to string instruments literally since his early youth. As a fairly accomplished violinist, he had a natural inclination towards the string ensemble. This was also thanks to his friendship with Stanislav Novák, his classmate from the conservatory and later the soloist and concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the founder of several chamber music ensembles (including the Novák & Frank Quartet). Martinů’s oeuvre comprises not only seven string quartets, string trios, etc., but also String Quintet (1927) and String Sextet, H 224 (1932), which come from a period that was crucial to Martinů’s development. Beginning with String Quartet No. 2 (1925), Martinů contributed to the shaping of Neoclassicism in music in the 1920s. He freed himself from Romantic invention and compositional techniques and subordinated his compositional work to purely musical laws. Despite his creative achievements, he had to struggle to make a living as a composer. He entered various competitions, and in 1927, when he visited Prague in September to attend concerts given by the foundation of the wealthy American patroness Elisabeth Sprague-Coolidge, he was so inspired that the following week in Polička he composed String Quintet dedicated to this influential lady. He thus joined the ranks of composers such as Stravinsky, Honegger, Bartók and Schoenberg, whose works were sponsored (and paid for) by this patroness, who let them be presented by first-class performers on international stages.

Martinů established another contact with Mrs. Coolidge in 1932, when he submitted his String Sextet to the competition announced by her foundation. It was also composed very quickly – in one week in May 1932, this time in Paris. It is characterized by a disciplined structure and a distinct style combined with rich creative invention as well as sophisticated instrumentation. It was awarded first prize from 145 entries in the competition. According to the recollections of Martinů’s wife Charlotte, Martinů at first did not believe the information about being the winner, thinking it a joke played on him by his friends. The first prize was $ 1,000. “I think I’ll buy an upright piano now. The time is good because no one is buying anything, so they are selling on good terms,” he wrote home to Polička. Until then he had to work on borrowed pianos. The prize also brought him a great prestige: the String Sextet was premiered by the Kroll Sextet in Washington on 25 April 1933. It was such a success that the piece had to be repeated once again the same night. Here Martinů characteristically works with short thematic models, which he varies and develops. The String Sextet forms an organic whole, original and unique not only in its scoring. Paradoxically, it is the unusual combination of instruments that prevents it from being performed more often. At the request of the American Music Publishers (APM) in New York, Martinů added a double bass part to his String Sextet. This version, which allows for orchestral performance, was first heard in the United States in 1951.

Olivier Messiaen
Quatuor pour la fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time) for violin, clarinet, cello and piano

Bohuslav Martinů was attracted to string instruments literally since his early youth. As a fairly accomplished violinist, he had a natural inclination towards the string ensemble. This was also thanks to his friendship with Stanislav Novák, his classmate from the conservatory and later the soloist and concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the founder of several chamber music ensembles (including the Novák & Frank Quartet). Martinů’s oeuvre comprises not only seven string quartets, string trios, etc., but also String Quintet (1927) and String Sextet, H 224 (1932), which come from a period that was crucial to Martinů’s development. Beginning with String Quartet No. 2 (1925), Martinů contributed to the shaping of Neoclassicism in music in the 1920s. He freed himself from Romantic invention and compositional techniques and subordinated his compositional work to purely musical laws. Despite his creative achievements, he had to struggle to make a living as a composer. He entered various competitions, and in 1927, when he visited Prague in September to attend concerts given by the foundation of the wealthy American patroness Elisabeth Sprague-Coolidge, he was so inspired that the following week in Polička he composed String Quintet dedicated to this influential lady. He thus joined the ranks of composers such as Stravinsky, Honegger, Bartók and Schoenberg, whose works were sponsored (and paid for) by this patroness, who let them be presented by first-class performers on international stages.

Martinů established another contact with Mrs. Coolidge in 1932, when he submitted his String Sextet to the competition announced by her foundation. It was also composed very quickly – in one week in May 1932, this time in Paris. It is characterized by a disciplined structure and a distinct style combined with rich creative invention as well as sophisticated instrumentation. It was awarded first prize from 145 entries in the competition. According to the recollections of Martinů’s wife Charlotte, Martinů at first did not believe the information about being the winner, thinking it a joke played on him by his friends. The first prize was $ 1,000. “I think I’ll buy an upright piano now. The time is good because no one is buying anything, so they are selling on good terms,” he wrote home to Polička. Until then he had to work on borrowed pianos. The prize also brought him a great prestige: the String Sextet was premiered by the Kroll Sextet in Washington on 25 April 1933. It was such a success that the piece had to be repeated once again the same night. Here Martinů characteristically works with short thematic models, which he varies and develops. The String Sextet forms an organic whole, original and unique not only in its scoring. Paradoxically, it is the unusual combination of instruments that prevents it from being performed more often. At the request of the American Music Publishers (APM) in New York, Martinů added a double bass part to his String Sextet. This version, which allows for orchestral performance, was first heard in the United States in 1951.

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